Many of Ms Sternheimer’s points are as striking as they are valid – as when she points out that for all the overheated media reaction to the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, far more children are killed by their parents than by their classmates. In that year alone, she says, 1,000 children were killed by their parents – compared with 35 killed by their classmates.
Karen Sternheimer, a 34-year-old sociologist at the University of Southern California, just published a book It’s Not The Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence On Children, arguing that the media doesn’t ruin our children as much as we imagine. Here is a useful review of the work. Thanks to www.politicaltheory.info for the pointer.
Here is a good bit from the review:
‘Young people today are less likely to be violent, sexually active, smoke or use drugs compared with their parents when they were young.’
Arrest rates for violent offences among people under 17 fell steadily through the 1990s. Only 13 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds drank alcohol in 1999, compared with 33 per cent in 1990, and 50 per cent in 1979.
The teen birthrate declined 22 per cent in the 1990s and is now at what Ms Sternheimer says is an all-time low. (In 1950, the pregnancy rate for 15- to 19-year-olds was 80.6 per thousand, whereas by 1999 the rate had dropped to 49.6 per thousand.)
We’ve needed a book like this for some time now.
Addendum: Many of you have written to suggest that the blog post title should have been “Watch Out for Mom.”